Monday, July 30, 2007

Rounding the last curve and heading down the home stretch

Yesterday afternoon we started putting the center island together. Note the operative word - started. This was a LONG process. Especially when yours truly didn't examine the picture directions quite well enough. When everything was finished except for the drawers I discovered I'd put all the drawer pull panels in upside down. This meant dismantling quite a bit of it, turning them right side up and then reassembling. What a giant pain! It also meant we had to take the back off - and since it is little more than heavy white cardboard it looks just a wee bit worse for wear if one looks closely. I decided that didn't matter - I'll just cover it with the posters that I took off the walls! I put together one drawer and decided it was just too hard on my hands. Fred started putting together the next one and finally - after all we've already done - borrowed a drill screwdriver bit from the neighbor so it would go faster. Once he did that he whipped though putting together the drawers in no time. This morning I installed them in the cabinet. Sure works beautifully! Those of you who remember how crowded this room was will know how much I'm enjoying having this much space to move around in.

I still have lots and lots of fat quarters to refold, plus stacks of other stuff to find room for - either in drawers or in pretty containers to put on top of the cabinets. I still have my work cut out for me for the rest of the day, but I think I'm in good shape. If I don't finish folding all the fabrics they can sit quite happily on either the island or the big board with it's fresh, new canvas cover. I'm up against a deadline - tomorrow is cleaning day so I need to have everything either put away or up and out of the way.

Which tells me I should get back to work!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Progressing well

All the shelves are together and bolted to the walls. Aren't they beautiful! The white looks so pretty against the green walls, and the room is so much lighter and brighter.

All the large pieces of fabric are put away. All that's left is refolding the fat quarters - hundreds of them. At least I'm doing it quickly. I decided not to iron them again - in spite of my compulsive A-type personality - and they look just fine. I'll have to iron them again when I use them anyway.

This afternoon we'll clean the carpet when Fred gets home from golfing, and then we'll put the center island together. It's getting there!

I needed to put together this corner so it would start feeling like my own room again.

All the larger rulers have moved to the closet wall, and the narrow, long rulers next to the cabinets in the closet corner.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sewing room redo progress

A short post for those of you who asked for pictures of my progress. I think we did pretty good considering everything. We got two of the large cabinets with doors put together as well as the bookcase without doors. We are now MUCH faster at this than we were when doing the first one. Don't even need to look at the instructions. We got this much done by about 5:30 last night when it was time to head to Rick's and Rebecca's for our weekly get together. When we got home about 9:00 I couldn't resist taking time to put some fabrics away just to see how they'd look. I love the result! I did discover one thing, however, that will really stretch out this redo. Even though the depth of the cabinet was listed at 11", the shelves themselves are only 10 1/4" deep. My fat quarters all hang off the front of the shelves the way they are currently folded, so I will need to fold them all again so they measure about 9" x 5" instead of the current 11" x 4 1/2". I wanted to resort them anyway - separating all the reproductions and the primitive-folk art designs from the rest of them. Just means I'll be spending more time getting reacquainted with them!

Because we live in earthquake country, and for general safety, we are bolting all the shelves to the wall. I certainly have enough fabric that I could suffer significant damage if one of the shelves collapsed on me!

In case anyone is curious, I took an accurate measurement of the room while it was empty. It's a skinny 8' 8" wide and 13' 8" long - just over 118 sq. feet. It was my daughter's bedroom until she moved upstairs (into the room that currently holds the longarm) when she was in junior high school.

1. A successful trip to IKEA.
2. Another hand-and-foot win for the girls!
3. Vacations
4. Cool mornings
5. A happy, helpful husband


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back from Ikea

We both woke up early thanks to a dog that wanted out. Fred turned on the local 6:00 a.m. news, and reported that the freeway looked clear with no Ikea traffic jam. So we decided to grab a fast bite, dress quickly and head over. We left about 6:30. Should have been a 15 minute or so drive, but it took us quite a while to find our way in. The store is right next to the Portland airport and the police had blocked all the roads we thought would take us to the store. After driving in a circle a couple times we finally asked a police officer which road was actually open. I think we got in line about 7:30. Parked close to the pick up area so that was especially nice. They had Swedish dancers, trampoline artists, jugglers and more to entertain the people in line, as were passing out lots of free things like water bottles, fans, toys, hats, and more. Time went quickly and we passed into the store about 20 minutes after it opened. We checked out the the "real thing" to make sure it looked as good as I thought it would, then headed to the self service pickup area. Took as long to tie down the truck as it had to shop! We were out of there by 10:30 and home shortly afterward. Thought you'd enjoy seeing a shot of the truck ready for unloading.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The rest of the story . . . .

Right after I was hit, I jumped out of the vehicle and so did the driver of the car in front of me - another CRV but a slightly older model. It was a boy with long curly blond hair of about 18 or 19. When I asked him why he didn't look behind him and just backed straight into me, he replied in a very vague, dreamy voice, "I'm just so sorry mam, I just so very tired, so very tired, so very sorry." I asked him why his friend wasn't driving if he was so tired, and he replied she couldn't. As I was inspecting the front of my vehicle to determine the damage I looked up to say something else to him - to see him getting in his vehicle and driving off. It happened so fast I could get even part of a license plate.
I wasn't hurt at all - just very, very angry. I reported the accident to the police and the insurance company. Thank goodness for a lower deductible due to hit and run - just $100. It's taken them 15 days to get it fixed because of all the things that were damaged. Luckily no frame damage - just hood, radiator, air conditioner, bumper, and other stuff. Almost $4000 for repairs. My guess is he drove off because he was either uninsured or was driving his parents vehicle without their permission - or maybe both. It'll be so nice to have my "Blue" back. I've been driving Fred's truck - a stick shift. Luckily school is out, so he's been able to ride his bike everywhere he's needed to go.

Now for the pictures. These are very sobering, I think. Should be a cure for wanting to shop for awhile. I sure got my workout moving all this stuff. It looks like way more this way - spread all over the living room and dining room. I've put sheets over all the fabric near the window to protect against fading. I think I'm going to be doing handwork these next few days if I want to sew. Should have lots of time to catch up on my blog reading also.

To be continued . . . .

An empty room - more or less

It's now just a few minutes less than three hours since my last post, which I wrote just before I started emptying the room. I really never expected to get this done this quickly. I moved it all myself except for a little help from Fred when I needed to get things off the top two levels of the green shelf. I still need to take things off the walls because the new shelves are higher than what I had before. I imagine I'll have to move a few of the posters upstairs to Gandalf's room (my longarm - a Proto with the Stitch Wizard - named after the wizard in Lord of the Rings). I think I can still find room for the bulletin board and hopefully my ribbons. The green shelf will go out in the garage for storage - I need Fred to help me move that this afternoon. I'm not sure about the white bookshelf. I wish I could find room for it somewhere else in the house because I hate to get rid of it. The kids don't want it. I've not given up looking yet. The machine and the two sets of rolling drawers that hold the TV will stay where they are now, as will the filing cabinet. That's the only thing that will remain the same. I also have to vacuum well, and clean the carpet also by the looks of it. Guess that's what I'll do this afternoon.

We also have to go pick up our CRV from the body shop this afternoon. I don't think I've gotten around to mention that I was "rear ended" in the front of the vehicle the day after the Fourth of July. I know - sounds very strange. I pulled up behind another vehicle at a stop sign just south of the credit union branch where my office is located. The driver was not pulled up to the intersection, and was just sitting there talking to the girl in the passenger seat. Just as I was about to give a gentle toot of the horn to let him know he needed to move, as he was sitting in the middle of the street, he decided to back up. I sounded my horn as loudly and quickly as I could, but it wasn't fast enough. He backed hard right into the front of the CRV. Thank goodness it wasn't hard enough to set off the air bags - otherwise they probably would have totalled the vehicle. You may remember that we'd just paid it off a very few months ago.

See the next post for the rest of the story - I need more words up there to stretch out far enough for me to post all my pictures.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part I

I feel like I'm back in school the first of September writing the first English essay of the year LOL!
Last night I finished pressing that giant pile of blocks-to-be. Today I cut them apart. There were 24 finished blocks in the stack - making a current total of 362 finished blocks. There is one stack that needs only one more strip to finish them off - that's the stack you see by the machine. There are two shorter stacks that need one strip in each direction to finish them off. Those two stacks have a very few that need more strips than that - probably less than 20 however.

I'm calling a halt for the time being now and starting to move stuff. Our hot weather is supposed to return tomorrow so I want to get everything moved out today while it's still somewhat cool. In Part II I'll post pictures of the result.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I start my week vacation tomorrow morning. Tomorrow I'm moving most everything out of the sewing room in preparation for the Wednesday trip to Ikea. So tonight I'm madly sewing Crumb Chaos blocks trying to finish these before I must pack them up for a few days. With this last round a few are finished, but most need either one or two more strips. Thought you'd get a kick out of seeing this stack on the cutting table waiting for pressing. It's probably the last picture I'll take of this gerryrigged cutting table. The next photos will be of the new stuff moving in. Stay tuned - I'll post pictures of my progress.

1. Paid vacation days
2. A great weekend read
3. A camping trip with all the kids coming up soon
4. A few new quilting books
5. Flavored coffee creamers


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coming up for air

As it turns out I did a considerable amount of sewing after all this weekend. I had just finished the fourteenth chapter of Harry Potter when the phone rang. It was my daughter calling to tell us Rick had loaded the last book onto his Ipod so he could listen more easily when driving, and they wondered whether Fred would like to come get the CD's so he could start the book also. I asked him, and was surprised when he said no. So I told her I'd come get them for myself so I could sew while I listened. So I've been in the sewing room listening to Harry Potter and Fred's been upstairs reading. I finished the book shortly before 2:00 this afternoon. I finally made myself go to bed at 1:45 this morning, recognizing that there was no way I could finish it in one setting. I won't say a word about the book as I know many of you won't have had a chance to even start it yet.

I decided I didn't feel like doing applique while listening - instead I was in the mood for more mindless sewing. I meant to get out either the 2" squares or the string blocks. Much to my surprise I went back to the crumb bin where there were still many smaller starts of mile-a-minute blocks. Apparently I'd not had enough of them after all, and am even more obsessed than I previously thought. I've been making more Crumb Chaos blocks - this time using up every last piece that was more than a single crumb. I've no idea how many blocks I'm in the process of making - they seem to go on forever. I've reached the stage where at least half of them need only one more round before they are finished. I'm happy to say I've now emptied one bin of strips. I'm looking forward to finishing these - I think I am well and truly sick of them by now. When I'm done I should have enough for at least a couple Hotel Hope quilts in addition to the quilt for our bed.

Tomorrow is my only day of work this week - Tuesday I start a week's vacation. I'll be moving most of the things out of my sewing room on Tuesday in preparation for my new furniture. I can hardly wait!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Counting the minutes

No - not until retirement. :-)

Until I can head to Barnes and Noble to pick up the newest Harry Potter. When I get home there will be nothing else for me except for reading until I get to the end of the book. I promise I won't give anything away when I'm done!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mid-Century Album Class

I've been doing so much machine sewing of scraps lately that I really feel the need for something different. It is time to get back to my handwork. Many of you have heard me talk about the mid-century Album quilt class I'm taking. I had prepped 4 small blocks and finished one, but that was all I'd done. We've had five classes now - we are almost half done - and I had one finished block. So I've been working on the other three, and now four are done. So I spent Sunday and last night prepping more blocks. I have two more 8" blocks prepped, and three or four 16" blocks. Each of our classes has focused on a different category of blocks - trees, wreaths and rings, light and dark, diagonals, and flowers. There are at least 10-12 block patterns in each packet - choosing is so very hard! I want to make them all!

My finished blocks are three trees from the first packet and a crossed leaf design from the third packet. I'm so eager to get back to working on these! We have 8 different choices for layout - thank goodness we don't have to choose that right now! I really like three of them - I don't know how I'll choose. I knew I wanted one with both size blocks, which did help me narrow my choices a little. Please let me know which of these three layouts you like best.

Eileen Trestrain, our album class instructor, is eager to start a 19th century sewing circle that meets regularly for sewing and fellowship. She had the first meeting at her house on Sunday. There were about 10 of us there, and we had a marvelous time. Three people, including Eileen, were working on cream colored wool baseball uniforms - reproductions of baseball uniforms from 1857. Next Saturday at Ft. Vancouver they are playing an exhibition baseball game - 1857 rules. No sliding in the white wool - sliding then was not allowed because it wasn't considered gentlemanly behavior! There are brass buttons on the front of the uniforms - they look more like band uniforms than baseball uniforms. Others were doing hand applique, a couple were doing red work, and one was cross stitching tiny catalog numbers on items from the linen collection belong to the Factor's House at Ft. Vancouver. Eileen is in charge of all the textiles and costuming for the Fort - when I retire I want to become one of her volunteers. We had a delightful afternoon with good conversation and wonderful 19th century food items - bread pudding, brownies, snickerdoodles, fresh fruit and lemonade. Much of the food in the 19th century is exactly the same as what we eat now! We are meeting again in September - I'm looking forward to it very much.
1. Rain today bringing cooler temperatures
2. Fresh cherries
3. A clean house
4. New recipes to try
5. The scale creeping slowly downward


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Goal reached

I'm very happy to report that I've reached my goal. I can call a halt - at least for now - to my Crumb Chaos obsession. All of the partially finished blocks are finished. Looking like a giant stack of wild, colorful square pancakes - 338 completed 6 1/2" blocks. The drawers of oddball size strips - 1 1/4" and 1 3/4" wide - are significantly reduced. I've been able to combine the two into one drawer that is definitely less full than each were when I started. My tub of crumbs looks like it's reduced to half of what it was. That's still a LOT of crumbs but that's OK. I'm going to let the rest slumber peacefully in the drawer for the time being. I'm ready to move on to something different. (I'll share that with you tomorrow.)
I don't know yet what I'll do with these blocks. I'm seriously thinking of making us a new quilt for our queen size bed, as the two we currently use are starting to show wear. I don't want to put a special quilt on the bed as long as the dog thinks the bed is his. These would make a great warm quilt for the coming winter that I can let the dog sleep on without worry. There should still be enough left for a Hotel Hope quilt. If not, there are certainly enough more crumbs and strips to make as many more blocks as needed.

Update on our grandchildren

I'm very happy to report that our daughter and son-in-law received their preapproval of the DNA testing from the US Embassy last Saturday. They are now one step closer to bringing Diogenes Santiago aka Joseph Logan-to-be home. Now All Gods Children International is compiling the myriad of official papers they need to turn over to the Guatemalan Protectorate General. The next step is the long one - an average of 2 1/2 months of examination by the Guatemalan government. We have our fingers and toes crossed that they will come in below average and get the results of this step sooner. In the meantime I'm posting a new picture of Sophie and her daddy. I adore this picture!

A difficult choice

It seems I'm always forced to make a difficult choice with my limited amount of free time - do I sew or do I spend time on the computer? I'm sure the rest of you struggle daily with the same choice. However do you decide?

Lately I've been choosing sewing. I am so far behind on my blog reading - according to Bloglines I have over 1000 new posts waiting for me to read. And the email has piled up unopened in my Inbox. Because of my Crumb Chaos obsession I've spent little time on the computer these past 2-3 weeks. I've accomplished a lot in the sewing room, but I feel a terrible disconnect between myself and all my quilty friends in Blogland. I wonder daily what you are all up to and what you've been accomplishing. What's happening in your lives. I miss you all dreadfully. I often feel like the pull is tearing me in half - quilting or computer, computer or quilting?

Right now quilting is winning out, but please don't think I've forgotten you. You are all held in my heart. I miss you lots, and I will read all your posts one of these days. I have a week of vacation coming up in 9 days, and plan to spend it all at home - other than the day I spend at Ikea!

Obsession and porridge

When I became a manager at the credit union my supervisor arranged for me to take an expensive personality inventory called - I think - The Birkman Personality Inventory. The fee for this was $300. At that time they had all new managers complete this. Each of us learned about our working styles and how they compared with the styles of the other managers. This was to facilitate communication and teamwork between all the managers. I love doing stuff like this - I always like to get more information about what makes me "tick". After answering many pages of questions the results were complied, and I got to spend 2-3 hours with a "Birkman interpreter" learning more about myself. It was absolutely fascinating and completely accurate.

One of the things I learned - that I really already knew - is that my ideal position is that of project manager. I like to focus on one thing from start to finish - often forgetting the existence of anything else - until that project is done. If it's something I'm fascinated with, I can easily take it to the extreme of total obsession. I can multi-task if I have to, but I dislike doing so and don't do my best work this way. I don't divide my attention among several things easily.

About now you are probably thinking the same thing I'm thinking - if this is true why do I have so many UFO's? To tell you the truth I don't really have a clue. My best guess is that if something new that seems absolutely fascinating comes along, my obsession can change very quickly, even when a project isn't completed. When this happens I'm driven to take a detour and put all my effort and concentration into the new project. It's not because I've become tired of the first project - not at all. I guess I'd say I'm obsessive in a fickle sort of way - strange, because that's certainly an oxymoron if I've ever heard one.

Anyway, it's the Crumb Chaos blocks that have taken my thoughts along this path this morning. I've become totally obsessed and driven to empty these tubs and finish making these blocks. I have a stack of 120 finished blocks in groups of 10, plus three spare. But look at the partial blocks on the machine waiting for another round. And look at the drawers of strips and crumbs. They don't look any less full than when I started. Obviously they are - I can pack them down with my hands to the point where it looks like they are about half gone. I can easily make a California king or a couple twin quilts with the number of blocks I'll have when I finish, and still have a bunch left over. Right now looking at these drawers makes me feel like I'm just treading water and getting no where - even though the stack of finished blocks says differently.

I'm reminded of a story in my favorite story book from childhood. The story of a very poor widow raising her children alone. She had no trouble feeding them, however, because she had a magic porridge pot. When she said "Cook little pot, cook" the pot would make porridge for them to eat. When she said "stop, little pot, stop" it stopped making porridge. One day the mother went to town, leaving her children to fend for themselves. Her daughter decided to make porridge. The problem was this - the daughter couldn't remember the words to make the pot stop cooking. By the time the mother got back the porridge had filled the little house, poured out the door, and ran in a river down the street engulfing everything it passed.

I'm beginning to feel like my scrap drawers and bins are like that little porridge pot. When decided to work with scraps last summer I started working on emptying my scrap drawers. I finished several scrap quilt tops, starting with the Broken Dishes quilt. Then I moved on to string quilts. Then I sewed dozens of hourglass blocks. However, it seems the more tops I finish the more scraps are coming out of the drawers. I'm calling "Stop, little drawers, stop! I have enough scraps!" Those are obviously not the correct magic words, however, because the scraps keep pouring from the drawers. So far there is no end in sight.

And I continue to obsessively sew them together into blocks and quilt tops.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Crumb Chaos blocks - a photo tutorial

Now that I've finished with my orphan tops I'm back to making Crumb Caos blocks. I think I have enough crumbs and odd-ball width strips to make several quilts with these blocks. I'm afraid it's going to take a while to empty these tubs!

Several people have expressed a desire for a step-by-step tutorial on these blocks, so I took pictures of my progress this weekend. Please let me know if you still have questions!

Start with a bunch of strips of various widths plus crumbs, which are small pieces of fabric. Square and rectangular crumbs are the easiest to use, but you can also use odd shapes as long as you leave enough space between crumbs so you can cut the edge at an angle. Put a strip face up on the bed of your machine and start sewing crumbs along the strip. When you get to the end of the strip add another strip, chain sewing them all together. You can also use leftover triangle squares, flying geese, ends of strata, etc. along with your crumbs. Butt the crumbs together very closely so you need make only one cut when cutting them apart.

When you've chained a bunch of strips take them to the ironing board. Press the seams to one side - I like to press toward the long strip even though it's easier to press in the other direction.

When you've pressed all the crumb-strips take them to the cutting table. Cut the strips between each crumb.
Now you have a bunch of larger crumb pieces. Repeat the process all over again, sewing these to new strips. You can go around log cabin style, sew parallel seams or whatever you feel like doing. I place the big crumbs on the new strips in as many different directions as possible. I don't pay any attention as to which fabrics are next to other fabrics.

Once again, when all are stitched to strips, repeat the pressing and slicing apart. Some blocks will grow faster than others because the crumbs used are bigger. As you run out of large multi-piece crumbs start over adding small crumbs to the strip until you reach the end.

Continue doing this until your pieces are large enough to trim into the size block you desire. I'm doing 6 1/2" unfinished blocks as I like this size block - not too big or too small. Trim the blocks to size and repeat again and again until you have the number of blocks you want for your quilt. These can be set in any way you like, just like any other blocks.
Like string blocks, these are very addicting to make. They are called Crumb Caos blocks because they are so random and unplanned. They are also very quick to make. The first time I made them I think I made 25 or more blocks in one afternoon of sewing.

Enjoy, and post your blocks on your blog for us all to see!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Morning accomplishments

I love staying home on a holiday and getting paid for it! Especially when it turns out to be so productive. I went to bed late last night - after 11:00 because I was reading blogs - but still woke up early this morning. This time it wasn't the dog - it was all the birds singing so early. It's been HOT for us, so all the windows were open last night. It was a veritable symphony of bird song that woke me. I thought I could go back to sleep, but my brain started working right away on my goals for the day so gave up and got up before 6:00 a.m.

First I finished the projects I started last evening - shifting stuff around in my sewing rooms in anticipation of getting my new furniture on July 25 when Ikea opens. I wanted to clear enough space so I could add another wide bookshelf.

Here's what I did:
  1. 1. Moved all the kitted "Hussies" (Haven't Started Yets") out of the closet drawers and into four large tubs that I moved upstairs and under the longarm.
  2. 2. Filled the closet drawers with all my cut strips, squares, bricks, etc. - basically all of my scraps.

3.Pulled out the dresser that used to hold cut strips and more hussies, and replaced it with the two rolling drawer stacks that were to the right of the filing cabinet, which opened up wall space for an additional wide bookshelf.

4. Sorted, combined, and cleaned the cubes under the cutting table. I'll have storage under the new cutting table but not nearly as much, so I had to reduce what was there to only what will fit in the drawers of the new table.

I'm not sure what the difference is but the room already feels larger. It's a good feeling! Just over three weeks now until Ikea opens. The doors open at 9:00, but they are having live entertainment in the parking lot starting at 6:00 am! I want to be there early so I have the best chance of finding all the shelves and cutting table in stock. Then I'm taking an entire week's vacation to redo the room. I can hardly wait!

When I finished with all that I sewed the final border on the first orphan top. I really like the blue border on this one. Now they are both up in the longarm room waiting for their turn with Gandalf (my longarm). Now I'm back to sewing mile-a-minute blocks. My next goal is to empty the crumb box and three boxes of strips. I should do well today. We aren't going anywhere because there is too much danger of fire as our neighborhood is nutty for great big expensive noisy fireworks.